Over the last two days, Zach's eyes have been open much more often. He is getting less muscle relaxer (called Baclofen), which helps prevent the muscles from tensing but has a sedation side effect, which is something they do not want. If he continues tensing up too much, his Doctor will give him injections of Botox directly to each muscle to alleviate the tension. They are now basically going to "experiment" with various drugs to help wake him from his coma.
Zach has not received his EEG yet but it's been ordered. He did receive his MRI, which showed swelling in one of his ventricles. When he left Hopkins there was swelling, but it's concerning that it hasn't gone down on its own so they are checking with Hopkins Neurosurgery to see if anything needs to be done to drain it.
They had increased his feed to 80 ml an hour from 70 ml, but he vomited so they had to stop the feed for a few hours and then restarted it again at 60 ml. The goal is to continue increasing his feed so that he gets proper nutrition, and once he tolerates about 100ml or so, they can start feeding him 4-6 times a day instead of continually, all day. That way, his stomach will get used to eating more normally.
Lastly, his toes are looking ever so slightly better each day. They have come a long way since his days in Sinai's ER. Probably parts of some of his toes may deteriorate instead of all 10 toes, but the wound team checks his toes regularly.
More t-shirts and hats are being ordered so please stay tuned to when they will be available. Also, more fundraisers and awareness events are being planned as well. Thanks again for everyone's love and support.
[August 11th, 2007] 6:15pm
On Wednesday Zach had MRI and EEG scans to see if there is anything different from what they saw at Hopkins. He's also been weaned off of the oxygen they were giving him and he is now breathing only room air through his trach. Doctors also put in a smaller trach so that they can eventually take it out to allow him to breathe through his nose and mouth normally again. Also he will get a stronger dose of Ritalin to simulate his brain activity.
Please don't forget that the trial date against the four boys is set for Oct. 15, 2007. The more people we have in the room to support Zach, the more influential it will be on the jury and judge. Everyone who cares about Zach is encouraged to attend.
You can help out with the trial by sending letters to the prosecutor working on Zach's case to explain how this should never have happened to Zach. These letters will be influential during sentencing. Also, you can email Mayor Sheila Dixon and ask for protection and safety and remind her of Zach's story.
This is all stated on the "How Can I Help?" page. Just as importantly, you can call, email or write the Baltimore City States Attorney, Patricia Jessamy, and ask for justice in Zach's case. Ms. Jessamy has the final say on the outcome for the 4 boys.
Baltimore City State's Attorney's Office
208 Mitchell Courthouse
110 North Calvert St.
Baltimore, Maryland 21202
[August 8th, 2007] 9:15am
Here's an email directly from Anna:
"Neighbors' Night Out on Sunday, Aug. 5 was an unbelievable day filled with love, support, hope and fun. Our friends are still collecting checks from all the restaurants but the support that made bars and restaurants burst at the seams was a success in itself. I would like to thank our amazing friends for organizing the event. They are the ones who came up with the idea and planned everything while I stayed by Zach's side day after day in intensive care. Just as importantly, I would like to thank all the participating sponsors, many of which jumped at the opportunity to help us out. And most importantly, a massive THANK YOU to all of our supporters -friends, family, neighbors, colleagues, strangers - who came out in full force to not only support Zach but also stand up against violence in Baltimore.
The detectives who worked on Zach's case came out and partied like rock stars and even offered to be my bodyguards all night (thanks guys!!). Zach's adorably cute nurses from Hopkins came out and got their grove on as well. Also present were the paramedics that saved Zach's life on June 1. These are just a few of the people that I actually met. I know we had supporters all over town. I wish I could have met each and every one of you but I thank all of you from the bottom of my heart. I also want to thank Reisha, one of my best friends from college (GO BLUE!), who drove down from NYC with her husband to attend the event. They spent more time in the car than they did in Baltimore. A big thank you to all the friends and family that came from near and far to attend Zach's fundraiser; I know there were many.
A thanks also goes out to Alan, from Regi's, for providing our friends and family with a delicious lunch and putting up with the media bombarding his super cute restaurant. We met an awesome staff at Coburns Tavern, who let us invade their normally-closed-on-Sundays upstairs bar, and who came in on short notice to serve drinks and give up all their tips for Zachs fund. The night ended with my friends and I at our favorite, everyone knows your name- type of neighborhood bar, Growlers. I know Zach can't wait to have one of your seasonal beers.
Neighbors Night Out was amazing and unforgettable. Friends and family told me about all the places they went all over town and how the waits were crazy long, the servers were donating tips, the bartenders had out donation buckets, and the damage done to bank accounts was well worth it, all in honor of Zach. Thank you again to everyone who participated. I wish I could have come to each establishment and met every supporter, but like I said a million times earlier and will never be able to say enough, THANK YOU!!!"
[August 4th, 2007] 12:30pm
Anna and family had a meeting yesterday morning with the Zach's case manager, brain injury associate advocate and therapists. The therapists went over the types of stimulation and rehab that they do with Zach. OT and PT work closely together and they just recently put Zach on a tilt table to start getting him used to being in a vertical position again. The tilt table is like a bed that they lift up to a 90 degree angle. The goal is for Zach to withstand being at a 90 degree angle for long periods of time. This helps with blood flow back down into the legs and feet and muscle and bone strength back into his lower body. Zach could only stand to be between 20-35 degrees for a few minutes but they will slowly work on increasing the angle.
OT and PT are working with Zach's tone right now and making sure none of his joints become "locked" in any one position. If his muscles worsen, they may need to give him medication or injections of Botox directly to the muscles that have tightened too much. PT and OT are also working very hard on Zach's core muscles (the trunk area) so that he can be able to sit up on his own.
Speech therapists stimulate his mouth by using things such as ice or honey around the lips to get Zach to lick his lips. They also put the speaking valve over Zach's tracheotomy to try and get some vocalization out of him, whether it's only a sigh or a moan at this point.
Zach hasn't shown much change since he first arrived at Kernan but they have assured Anna that it's still early. Zach could still be recovering from his severe septic shock a month ago, when he was rushed to Sinai. The doctors have also put him on a low dose of Ritalin as a brain stimulant. They will slowly increase the amount he gets.
For close family and friends that visit Zach, there are some specific ways to interact with Zach to help him wake up. Please only give Zach one stimulation at a time. Do not have the radio or TV on when you are talking to him. Talk to him from only one area (having people talk at him from all around the bed is too confusing). Only one person should speak to Zach at time. Do not have multiple conversations around his bed. When you speak to him, ALWAYS identify who you are so that he knows. Because Zach's brain is still healing and re-learning how to do things, it can get over stimulated and shut down, which we do not want.
Also, the Baltimore Sun ran an extensive piece on Zach's story and is in today's newspaper. Anna and a few friends interviewed with the Sun and went over all the details of that day when Zach was missing. It's great to get the story out to so many people in Baltimore.
We all look forward to tomorrow's Neighbors' Night Out fundraising event. I personally can't wait to see supporters wearing their t-shirts and enjoying the company of friends and family. Let's enjoy the day and stand strong for Zach and send a message that crime in Baltimore won't be tolerated or ignored.
[August 2nd, 2007] 11:15am
Zach is doing well at Kernan. He gets 3 hours of therapy a day: 1 for Occupational Therapy, 1 for Physical Therapy and 1 for Speech Therapy. He had a metal trach put in the other day. The metal is better because it means fewer secretions and Speech Therapy can put a valve cap at the end of it so he can start making noises and eventually start speaking! The therapists have been really great. Zach also has a special wheelchair now so that he can be a bit more mobile. Ashley and Terry wheeled Zach outside on Friday and read him the entire OK! Magazine Brittany Spears fiasco. Zach may be in a coma but he is staying updated on pop gossip.
The rehab team will meet with the family on Friday morning to go over what they've assessed and what they hope will happen with Zach while in their program. It's going to be a big weekend with a lot going on; the family meeting at Kernan, Zach's family coming in from Ohio and entire group of friends and supporters out for Neighbors' Night Out.
Zach was safely transferred back to Kernan Hospital yesterday in the coma stimulation program. In this program, the rehab team uses many techniques to try and "wake" a patient form their coma. He will be getting rehab to help rebuild his muscles, which have atrophied quite a bit from being in a bed for 7 weeks. Now that he is stable, the team at Kernan can work on not only his brain, but also his muscles and joints. At Hopkins, they were more concerned with getting his vitals back to normal and keeping him medically stable. Kernan is a great rehab hospital, and they started his rehab today.
Zach's toes are looking much better. It is only the tips on most toes that are black now, and the blood has started to really push its way up the toes. The only slightly concerning thing is that Zach's heart rate and blood pressure are both high, but the doctors are monitoring them and have told us this is a common occurrence in brain injury patients.
Anna is asking for support from the community; not only for Neighbors' Night Out but also during his trial, scheduled for Oct. 15. The Oct. 15 trial date will most likely be postponed so please follow this site for up-to-date info. We need to pack the courtroom with as many family members, friends, and community supporters as possible so the jury and judge can see how many people were affected by this one senseless and horrific act by 4 children. This will help assure a proper sentencing for the defendants. As always, thank you in advance for your support for Neighbors Night Out, Zach's Support Fund, and for attending the trial when the time comes.
[July 22nd, 2007] 11:45pm
On Friday, doctors transferred Zach out of the ICU because his vitals were looking great and he was very stable. He's still at Hopkins but on a different floor. Great news for Zach! The medical team says that he seems to be a lot more alert and aware of his surroundings. His heart rate increases when people enter his room, which is indicates higher alertness.
Zach's eyes are open quite often now, which is extremely encouraging. On Wednesday after the arraignment, we went to visit Zach and his eyes were shut. After a few minutes of talking, he opened his eyes and looked focused on whoever was talking with him. Anna asked him to blink twice if he could hear her -- he did! The same thing happened on Saturday when she asked him to blink. This was so exciting and hopefully an indication that he is starting to emerge from the coma. It's so hard to tell though, and everyone should remain hopeful and positive.
The only medical concern right now is his heart rate and blood pressure are higher than normal. This might either be a sign of him coming out of his coma, or it might be a result of the brain stem injury, which maintains control of blood pressure, heart rate and other vital processes. But this past week Zach has maintained his pressure and heart rate very well without any medications, so everyone is hoping that it's because he's starting to come out of his coma.
I had the pleasure of holding Zach's hand tonight and talking to him with Anna, Kim and Tania in the room. It was only a few minutes later that I noticed a cream on his hand that transfered onto mine, which I thought was lotion. As I lift my hand up to my face, breathing in the lotion's pungent aroma and wondering why Anna would be putting lotion on his hands, she starts to laugh**, telling me it's probably the ointment they use on his thighs and butt!
** Zach: I swear you better not laugh at me for this; otherwise the years of therapy I'll need to erase this from my memory will be in vain.
It seems that all the positive thinking and prayers are working and he will be awake any day now. I think also Anna and family are helping so much by constantly being by his side. I'm amazed daily at how strong Anna is and couldn't ask for a better woman in Zach's life. She writes down all the procedures the nurses need to do for Zach on a dry erase board in his room (including a note about applying ointment to said areas), even though they probably have it under control. She's constantly asking questions and always searching for the best possible care for Zach. You're the best Anna Banana!
Someone had the great idea to make a t-shirt to help raise money and awareness for Zach and Anna. So we started with a picture of Zach enjoying one of his favorite hobbies, DJ-ing, and created a shirt that I know would be "Zach approved." These shirts are being printed up now and will be ready to ship within a week. Click here to get a t-shirt.